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Support Groups

Medications and therapy alone cannot always deliver desired


You can form or join support groups with people suffering from

similar depression episodes. Spending time with such people,

sharing each other’s concerns, problems and doubts can make you

feel better equipped to handle your own concerns.

Lifestyle Changes

Doctors suggest various lifestyle changes in conjunction with regular

medications to combat unipolar depression. Such lifestyle changes

include maintaining a brisk exercise schedule for a minimum of

thirty minutes daily, quitting smoking, alcohol and drugs, and

adhering to a disciplined lifestyle.

Adopting these changes after completing your regular treatment for

depression can lower the chance of a relapse significantly.

Although treatment options do usually deliver desired results, there

may be insufficient response in some cases.

Doctors and psychotherapists could then suggest a change of

treatment option. Normally doctors watch you over a period of two

to three months of treatment.

If results are unsatisfactory, you could shift to another course of

treatment or you could take a second opinion of another doctor.

But, do not tax yourself too much. Any medication or treatment

option needs time to turn things around and help you to get back to

your earlier balanced life.

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21. Unipolar Depression Medications - Antidepressants

Antidepressants are one type of pill that doctors prescribe to help

unipolar depression. These pills do not guarantee immediate relief

but they can put you on the path to recovery.

Antidepressants help your brain to achieve a proper chemical

balance by regulating neurotransmitters.

Natural neurotransmitters, like norepinephrine and serotonin, are

essential for normal brain functioning and control of routine

activities like eating, sleeping and thinking.

Antidepressants increase the availability of these brain chemicals

and thereby help to relieve you of your unipolar depression.

A normal course of treatment through antidepressants spreads over

four to six months. Doctors decide on the necessary duration of

antidepressants according to the severity and complexity of your

unipolar depression.

Antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

(SSRIs), tricyclics, and others antidepressants like mirtazapine,

bupropion, nefazodone, trazodone, and venlafaxine.

SSRIs include drugs like fluoxetine, citalopram, escitalopram,

paroxetine, and sertraline. These antidepressants act only on the

neurotransmitter serotonin of your brain. These may cause a few

side-effects like nausea, dry mouth, insomnia, nervousness,

headache, fatigue, sexual problems and diarrhea.

Tricyclics are effective antidepressants. They take effect on both

neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine and other body

chemicals. Side effects of this antidepressant may include

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constipation, tiredness, blurred vision, dry mouth, difficulty

urinating, impaired thinking and worsening of glaucoma. They could

also affect your blood pressure and heart beat.

Antidepressants can affect the effectiveness of other medications

you may be taking. Some could cause adverse reactions.

Certain antidepressants could trigger serious reactions with certain

beverages and foods.

Sometimes antidepressants could trigger over-stimulation of

serotonin receptors. It could result in mental confusion,

hyperactivity, shivering, fever, sweating, poor coordination, diarrhea

and seizures. There should always be a gap of more than two weeks

before changing to a new antidepressant.

Although antidepressants are effective medications for unipolar

depression, proper treatment requires that they be combined with

counseling sessions.

Different people react differently to antidepressants. No single

medication can prove effective for all. Therefore, doctors test the

suitability of the medication before prescribing it for your long-term


Sometimes, doctors may prescribe you to be on certain mild

antidepressants for life.

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22. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a recommended form of

treatment for patients with severe unipolar depression. Psychiatrists

prescribe this treatment usually after other medications and

therapies do not deliver the desired effect. This therapy has a

success rate of 80%.

ECT can be administered during a hospital stay or you can undergo

treatment and return home. A normal course includes three sittings

per week with a maximum of twelve treatment sessions.

ECT involves use of controlled electric current of 0.9 ampere to

induce a shock to your brain. Passing such a current could cause an

artificial seizure. Psychiatrists administer you a general anesthesia

before start of treatment.

Anesthesia induces you into a sleep-like state. You are also given a

muscular relaxant. Doctors watch your vital functions closely.

Although the electric current causes your brain to experience a

seizure for one or two seconds, specific medicines control its effect

on your body.

You awaken five to ten minutes after the treatment. It takes little

time for you to recover completely.

Common side effects of ECT may include nausea, temporary short-

term memory loss, headache and muscle aches. In some cases, it

could cause changes in heart rhythms and blood pressure.

Doctors keep a watch for these and administer treatment

immediately if necessary. After completing all the sittings of a full

course of ECT treatment, psychiatrists could put you on

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antidepressants to achieve long-term relief from unipolar


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23. Eye Movement Desensitization

Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) technique

is a relatively new concept for treating unipolar depression. Dr.

Francine Shapiro, a psychologist at the Mental Research Institute in

Palo Alto, California created this technique in 1987. It involves use

of rapid eye movements with proper guidance to cure emotional

causes of unipolar depression.

Normally, people with unipolar depression exhibit varied and intense

feelings of anxiety, depression, obsessions, flashbacks, panic

attacks, nightmares and restlessness together with severe disorders

like sleep disturbances, eating disorders and, in extreme cases,

suicidal intentions.

EMDR may help you to combat these problems and overcome your

unipolar depression.

EMDR works by coordinating specific parts of your brain. Once any

traumatic event occurs, it remains registered in a specific part of

your brain permanently. The entire picture remains in a frozen

frame. Often you experience emotional upsets when these thoughts,

feelings, sounds and upsets are triggered due to any cause.

However, in another part of your brain, you always try your best to

resolve and forget these happenings. The absence of proper

coordination between these brain parts causes depression. EMDR

through fast eye movements and effective counseling tactics helps

to resolve this deficiency.

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EMDR treatment focuses on using your past happenings and your

present condition to make way for your future. The treatment

process first focuses on your position and condition at the time of

the emotional upset. This is the root cause of your problem.

Next, the treatment tries to solve your emotional upsets in the past

by attending to your present symptoms. This starts a specific

healing process, which tries to put right your emotional quotient and

prepares you to face a brighter future.

EMDR treatment involves various processes within the treatment

plan. These processes consist of preparation and assessment phases

according to individual requirements.

Then, you need to concentrate your eye movements on a moving

object for fifteen to thirty seconds, while focusing on specific

memories of your past. This coordinates your brain and eye


You may experience different feelings and responses during the

process. Allowing things to move along while you concentrate

without questioning the correctness or incorrectness of anything can

improve the working and responses of your brain.

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24. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is one of the most common treatment options for

unipolar depression.

It is also popular as talking therapy, where a patient talks and

discusses problems with licensed and trained psychotherapist to find

relief from most symptoms of depression.

Depression problems could also be hereditary.

Sometimes various chemical imbalances in your brain could trigger

depression symptoms and manifest in deep behavioral problems.

Need for Psychotherapy

Often, a major event like death, trauma, accident, divorce or loss of

a job could cause severe disruptions in your emotional setup. This

translates into depression.

It is essential to analyze the root cause for your unipolar depression

to be able to suggest suitable remedies and prescribe necessary


Psychotherapy treatments help you get back your control over your

life so that you are able to enjoy the basic pleasures in your life.

Psychotherapy treatments teach you various problem-solving skills

and coping techniques.

Types of Psychotherapy Treatments

Psychotherapy treatments can be in different modules:

Individual treatments include just you and your psychotherapist.

Group treatments include a small group of patients. Each of them

could discuss their individual problems, share experiences and

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provide solace. This makes each feel that they are not the only ones

suffering from depression problems.

Couple treatments involve you and your spouse or partner. This

helps the other person understand why you are suffering from

depression and how best to provide help and comfort during difficult


Family treatments involve all family members together to learn how

to deal effectively with depression problems of a family member.

Choice of Suitable Psychotherapy Treatment

Your psychotherapist is the best person to judge and analyze the

best treatment suitable for your condition.

Different approaches to psychotherapy include:

Psychodynamic therapy

This therapy could last for a long period, even spreading over years.

This therapy starts with the assumption that your depression

problems are due to certain unresolved conflicts in childhood.

Your therapy, therefore, aims to help you understand and deal

better with such childhood experiences and overcome all negative

feeling associated with those past events.

Interpersonal therapy

This therapy treatment deals with your poor relationships with

friends and family members and depression that is the result of

such poor relationships.

This therapy aims at improving your communication skills so that

you are able to communicate better with other people. This

treatment normally lasts for three to four months.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy

This therapy aims at fixing your wrong self-assumptions. You

develop depressive thoughts as you feel you are inferior to others

and cannot stand on the same level with others in your age group

or community.

Your therapist tries to establish the correct ways of thinking and

removes wrong and irrelevant assumptions about yourself that form

the base for your depression problems.

Useful Therapy Tip

Analyzing the root cause of your depression problem could start

your psychotherapy treatment. However, you should be consistent

and try to put in the necessary effort and time so that your

treatments deliver desired results.

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25. Choosing a Psychotherapist

A psychotherapist is a trained medical professional. This

professional can treat and offer remedial measures for your

behavioral disorders.

When choosing a psychotherapist, you have to consider your

comfort zone.

You should be able to talk and deal freely with your psychotherapist.

Therapists use various techniques to treat your behavioral

symptoms. You can therefore choose a male or a female

psychotherapist according to your preferences and ability to

communicate easily.

Similarly, you could choose a therapist who can converse in a

language you feel most comfortable with.

While discussing your depression problems with your

psychotherapist, you can inquire in to their education qualifications

and suitable treatment options.

You have to be honest while discussing your problems with your

psychotherapist. Holding back information cannot get you

anywhere. It will only compound your problems.

Psychotherapists have different levels of education and professional

qualifications. A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in


Psychiatry is a specialized branch of study of depression problems

and remedial measures. Psychiatrists can prescribe relevant

medications for behavioral problems.

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A psychiatric nurse practitioner has a master’s level nursing degree

with a state license. Such a nurse should have thirty hours of formal

training in mental health conditions and be capable of suggesting

necessary medications.

Normally, these nurses work with a psychotherapist to analyze your

behavioral problems and review your medical condition from time to


A clinical psychologist should have a doctorate degree, relevant

state license and supervised experience in dealing with depression


A psychologist cannot prescribe medications, as a psychologist is

not a medical doctor. Normally, psychologists work with a

psychiatrist nurse practitioner or psychiatrist to discuss your

depression problems and suggest suitable medications.

A licensed counselor or therapist has a master’s degree in

counseling and clinical psychology. Further, such a person has

relevant experience and he should pass a state exam to receive the

relevant license. A licensed counselor or therapist has training in

different psychotherapy techniques.

Understanding the different categories of psychotherapists can help

you choose the one who meets your requirements and suits your


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26. Experimental Therapies

Experimental therapies are treatment procedures for depression

problems, which doctors are uncertain over their effectiveness and

safety because there has not yet been enough data produced. These

therapies are not in regular use by doctors for treating depression


Experimental therapies include vagus nerve stimulation, hormone

replacement therapy in women, and transcranial magnetic


Vagus nerve stimulation uses electrical pulses to stimulate the

vagus nerve, the main nerve that controls depression and moods.

This therapy involves implantation of a tiny device in your chest,

connected to electrodes for necessary stimulation. This treatment is

common among epileptic patients. Doctors may use this treatment

in depression patients if no more common treatment techniques are

yielding any benefits.

Hormone replacement therapy in women can provide relief to

various mood changes taking place during menstrual periods,

perimenopause and post menopause. These periods involve drastic

changes in hormone levels that may cause severe depression and

other problems like hot flashes and night sweats.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is also popularly known as

repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. This technique involves

placing an electromagnet on the head to induce electrical currents

within your brain. These induced currents may change and stimulate

better activity within the brain. This may alleviate depression. This

technique is claimed to have few side effects. This technique is a

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relatively new concept and studies are still ongoing to understand

its long-term benefits and effects.

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27. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a technique that makes

use of a powerful electromagnet to change brain activities. This is a

non-invasive technique.

Doctors place an electromagnet on your scalp. This induces an

electromagnetic current in the underlying cortical neurons. This

affects functioning of the cortical neurons.

Varying intensities and changing frequencies of this electromagnet

can produce currents of different intensities. These are claimed to

correct excessive or low stimulation levels within the brain. This

technique may become very useful in treating patients with


Side effects of TMS are claimed to be very few and rare. In some

cases, it could cause epileptic seizures. These side effects may be

more common in patients with a family history of epileptic seizures.

Each TMS session could last for half an hour. You can undergo daily

sessions for a fortnight.

Depressed individuals have low brain activity. The electromagnetic

pulses help stimulate and increase brain activity. It may be easier

for some patients to tolerate TMS than other forms of treatment for


TMS technique is claimed to score better over other forms of

depression treatments like ECT and VNS. Its supporters say that

this treatment not only improves depression in people, it also

improves the quality of different parts of brain thereby stimulating

better memory and reasoning abilities.

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TMS is claimed to be very successful in patients with post-trauma

depression, schizophrenia, speech problems, brain hyperactivity

problems and other problems associated with regional hypo-


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28. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a system that gives intermittent

stimulations to the vagus nerve in the brain for thirty seconds at

five-minute intervals.

This consists of an implantable pulse generator, lead, and an

external programming system. Implantation of a vagus nerve

stimulation device takes about an hour.

Surgeons make a small incision in your neck and collarbone to

implant this battery-operated device. A flexible and insulated plastic

tube with electrodes is also placed under the skin near to the vagus


The generator delivers electric shocks to your vagus nerve. These

restrict emotional disturbances.

Your brain has many nerve cells that communicate with electric

currents. Imbalances in regular electrical activity in the brain may

cause emotional problems.

These electric shocks through stimulation of the vagus nerve may

restrict these imbalances and control your emotional episodes.

VNS is more popular in treating people with partial seizures. The

vagus nerve is one of the twelve cranial nerves in brain. This nerve

not only coordinates body and mind movements, it also affects

mood levels in your brain.

So, stimulating this nerve may regulate and bring changes in mood


A VNS device is claimed to be a better alternative to

Electroconvulsive therapy.

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Risks and possible complications due to VNS include difficulty in

swallowing, hoarseness, injury to carotid artery, and possible

chances of infection at the place of implantation of the device.

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29. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hormone replacement therapy is artificial induction of estrogen

and progestin in women. Estrogen and progesterone are female

hormones and their falling levels during perimenopause may cause

various emotional upsets leading to depression.

This therapy aims to reduce the effects of such falling hormone

levels and improving depression problems.

Mood changes are common in midlife. These changes, coupled with

falling hormone levels, may cause serious depression problems for

many women.

Observations and studies indicate that, if perimenopause and post

menopause women are on estrogen therapy for six weeks, there is

a significant fall in their depression episodes and they are more

socially active.

Menopausal women caring for an ill relative, spouse or parent also

may experience serious depression problems. Such women are

claimed to be in a better emotional state after receiving hormone

replacement therapy.

They report fewer hostilities and fewer ill feelings after the therapy.

However, there is no conclusive evidence that hormone replacement

therapy can deliver the desired results and bring a definite, marked

improvement in mental health. Although studies indicate promising

results, they are not convincing or final.

Men also experience depressing symptoms due to falling hormone

levels as they age. Men can find little relief through testosterone

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replacement therapy. Further, there is may be a risk of cancer

associated with hormone replacement therapy.

So, you should weigh the benefits and risks before starting with

hormone replacement therapy for treating depression.

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30. Alternative Remedies for Unipolar Depression

Presently, traditional doctors and physicians are more open to the

use of alternative remedies and therapies for treating unipolar


They may prescribe such remedies in addition to their regular

course of therapy treatment for depression.

It seems a positive development that traditionalists are now

recognizing that traditional medicine cannot always cure or prove to

be a remedial measure for all types of ailments.

Some are giving consideration to alternative remedies in treatment

of unipolar depression.

Demand for Alternative Remedies

Of late, some depression patients prefer and are on the lookout for

alternative remedies for treating unipolar depression problems.

They may feel that traditional medicines are not able to deliver

desired results.

Traditional medications for treating unipolar depression, like

antidepressants and drugs, may have many serious side effects.

These side effects often incapacitate you so that you are unable to

manage your regular duties independently.

Alternative remedies like herbal remedies are claimed to have fewer

side effects.

This may help you carry on with your normal duties while on


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Alterative remedies may be less expensive. Prescriptions drugs and

other treatments for unipolar depression are very expensive and

could be beyond the reach of most people.

The popularity of alterative remedies is increasing, as more and

more people are reaching out for these remedies to try to help with

their depression problems.

Types of Alternative Remedies

Alternative remedies cover a wide range of therapies and


These include:

Herbal - St. John’s Wort

This is a very common remedy for treating unipolar depression. This

herbal remedy comes from a plant of the same name.

It is available in the form of capsule, tablet, oil, and liquid extract.

This herbal remedy is very common in European countries in

treatment of the mild to moderate depression. Presently, it is

becoming popular among most Americans for treating depression

problems. It takes time to deliver effects. This herbal medicine is

available across most health foods stores.


Pregnant women should not contact St John’s Wort at all.

Everyone should consult their psychotherapist and doctor

before even considering that they might get this herbal


St. John’s Wort can react with other antidepressant medications. It

could even reduce their effects. It reacts strongly with other

antidepressant medications like SSRIs, tricyclics, and MAOIs.

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Common side effects of St. John’s Wort include fatigue, dizziness,

dry mouth, constipation, restlessness, stomach disorders, increased

sensitivity to sun and allergic reactions.

Herbal -5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan (5-HTP)

This is a natural antidepressant available from the seeds of the

Griffonia Simplicifolia plant. This is normally available in a capsule


It is claimed to help increase serotonin levels in the brain but there

is no conclusive evidence.

Some herbalists prescribe this for treating mild to moderate


Common side effects include constipation, nausea, gas, decreased

sexual desire, drowsiness and heartburn.

Herbal - Ginkgo

This herbal extract is claimed to be effective at treating depression,

especially in elderly patients.

Such patients are extremely resistant to drug therapies and may not

find any relief from antidepressants.

Gingko extracts are claimed to be useful in treating such people

with overall cognitive functioning systems claimed to record a

marked improvement after use of gingko extracts.

Herbal - Kava

This herb has excellent calming properties. It also elicits a feeling of

contentment and peace. This herbal remedy is very popular among

South Pacific islanders for treating depression symptoms.

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CAUTION: Products containing Kava were restricted or

banned by Australian authorities a few years ago after

negative findings in coronial enquiries.

Herbal - Rhodiola Rosea

This herb is prevalent in regions with cold climates. It is claimed to

improve levels of beta-endorphins and monoamines in extra cellular

body parts. This is claimed to cause an appreciable fall in depression

levels and reduces fatigue.

2. Vitamin Supplements

A normal balanced diet should ideally contain all essential vitamins

and minerals. Yet, vitamin deficiencies occur due to improper food

choices and this may result in serious problems. Therefore, vitamin

supplements may be needed to help you meet your deficiency and

overcome depression problems arising due to lack of necessary


It is wrong to think that a high dose of vitamins will yield extra

benefits. That could prove harmful. Always follow your physician’s

advice on essential dosage of vitamin as supplements or from other



Serotonin is a natural neurotransmitter. Adequate levels of this

neurotransmitter are essential to maintain proper mental health.

Lack of essential vitamins could cause serious depletion in serotonin

levels and thereby cause depression.

Taking vitamin supplements may set right your depression

problems. B-vitamins, as present in niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6,

thiamin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12 are claimed to be good


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You can also choose to get necessary vitamins through special diets.

Fish, lean meat, wheat germ, brewer's yeast, cooked dried beans,

soybeans, and peas are rich in B6. Meat, diary products, and

brewer's yeast contain B2.


Low magnesium levels may cause psychological changes like

depression. Low levels of this vitamin may cause severe memory

loss, insomnia, fear, restlessness, dizziness and attention problems.

Magnesium supplements of 200-400 mg each day are claimed to

bring substantial changes in depression levels.

Omega 3 Fatty acids

These are claimed to be very effective against depression. They are

available naturally in fresh sardines, flax seeds, hemp seeds,

walnuts, canola oil and salmon.

Omega 3 fatty acid supplements are available in oil or capsule form.


Tryptophan is an amino acid that is claimed to relieve depression

symptoms. Consuming foods rich in this amino acid may provide

some relief from depression symptoms. Tryptophan-rich foods

include whole-grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy

products, lean meats and fish.

You should eat these tryptophan-rich foods with carbohydrates like

rice, pasta, or potatoes for easy assimilation of this essential amino



Regular exercise boosts serotonin levels in your body and you are

more likely to feel happy and contented. It may increase the blood

flow to your brain and help reduce your mental stress.

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You can follow any exercise pattern like walking, swimming,

jogging, aerobics, or play a game.

Yoga and meditation may also calm your nervous system and

reduce restlessness immensely. Yogic postures improve your

breathing patterns and increase intake of oxygen. This may improve

your blood circulation and boosts your muscular system. Meditation

may improve your concentration powers and reduces mental stress

levels. This is claimed to lower the occurrence of unipolar


Consult your doctor before beginning yoga or any other form of

exercise. Some people are injured each year from subjecting their

unfit bodies to the strains of yoga positions


This therapy involves the use of specific herbal oils that are claimed

to relax and revive your nervous system.

These oils are primarily floral and citrus oils. Floral oils include rose,

geranium, jasmine, Melissa, yglang yglang, and neroli while citrus

oils include lime, bergamot, mandarin, and grapefruit.

You can use them in your bath or inhale them to test whether they

will help you to reduce depression levels.

Diet Modification

Develop healthy dietary habits to help you to get relief from


Some foods affect your moods intensely. Foods you should avoid

include processed foods, foods with high sugar content, alcohol, and


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Consuming protein-rich foods like chicken, turkey, and fish can

improve your moods. These are claimed to increase your energy

levels and reduce fatigue.


This is a traditional Chinese healing technique. It makes use of very

tiny needles to activate specific points in your body. This therapy is

intended to focus on releasing blocked energy at important body

points and allowing energy to flow freely within your body.

Releasing blocked energy is claimed to relieve you of depression

and improve your general health.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This therapy focuses on intense talking therapy sessions to combat

your depression problems. Talking with a therapist can help you

relate to what causes your depression.

Therapists suggest suitable remedies and regulate your flow of

thoughts constructively. This helps you to overcome your

depression without use of antidepressants and other drugs.

Light Therapy

This therapy is most suited for treating seasonal depression

problems. Often, such problems are said to occur due to insufficient

light in winter.

The therapy exposes you to bright fluorescent light that seems the

same as a bright sunny day. This is claimed to cause many chemical

changes in your body and brain and increase serotonin levels. You

may find some relief from depression.

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Be Careful when Using Alternative Remedies

Most alternative remedies are from natural sources. There is a

common belief is that anything from nature is safe and cannot be


Some traditional medicines are proving to be very unsafe and are

being recalled from the market.

Not all herbal remedies may be safe. Some plants are poisonous

and other plants or herbs could cause problems.

You should take only specifically prescribed and tested herbs for

help with unipolar depression problems.

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31. Acupuncture and Reflexology

Acupuncture is a very old form of traditional Chinese medicine. It

involves applying pressure in a set technique at specific body points

to allow regulated movement of body energy. This easy flow of

energy is claimed to stimulate normal flow of emotions and relieves

physical pain associated with emotional upsets or unipolar


Reflexology is the application of pressure at designated points on

your body. Reflexologists insist that these points correspond to

specific body parts and organs. Massaging and applying pressure at

these points through proper acupuncture techniques is claimed to

help release tension and prevents blockage of energy. They say that

this stimulates the free flow of blood throughout your body.

Some believe restrictions in free blood flow lead to formation of

crystals consisting of lactic acid deposits and that stimulation

through acupuncture and reflexology helps dissolve these lactic acid

deposits and regularize your blood flow.

Reflexology is claimed to identify specific points in your foot that

relate to specific body parts and organs. The inside of your foot is

said to refer to your pineal gland while the center of your foot is

said to refer to your thymus and the point underneath your big toe

to your thyroid and parathyroid glands.

Massaging these pressure points related to the specific glands is

claimed to improve your mental health and emotional stability, as

these glands are part of what determine your emotional health.

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Reflexology is a relaxing experience. Combining acupuncture and

reflexology is claimed by some to get you the best treatment for

curing depression problems.

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32. Exercise and Yoga


Exercise is a good way of maintaining your physical health and

improving your mental health. A simple routine of brisk exercises

stretching over half an hour can lighten your mood. Your exercise

can be brisk walking, stretching exercises, or any other form of

suitable exercise.

Exercise has definite therapeutic effect on depressed people. It can

make you mentally stronger to better overcome your trauma and

lower your anxiety levels.

Exercise makes you feel more energetic and better equipped to

handle everything. It can improve the quality of your sleep.

Maintaining a regular schedule of exercise can make you feel

motivated and develop higher self-confidence.

Depression medications may give you relief but it is normally for a

short period. Exercise may help to deliver long-term relief from

depression problems.


Different yogic postures and meditation are claimed to improve all

body systems:

9 stimulates blood circulation,

9 tones your nervous system,

9 improves concentration levels, and

9 makes your feel more energetic in body and mind.

Depression often causes extreme lethargy. Yoga can bring marked

improvements in such lethargy by stimulating blood circulation.

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Make yoga a part of your daily life. Spend a minimum of thirty

minutes in meditation and twenty minutes doing different yogic


Yoga also includes different breathing exercises. These breathing

exercises help control your inhalation and exhalation. Such control

of your breathing may help to tone your muscles extensively and

help you to become fitter over time.

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Part-VI: Coping with Unipolar Depression

33. Effects of Untreated Unipolar Depression

Unipolar depression basically affects your mental health. But, if left

untreated, it might cause serious upsets to your physical health and

mental stability.

If you have depression problems, you may be more likely to suffer

major setbacks in your physical health like strokes and heart

attacks. And, recovering from such illnesses may takes more time.

A stressed mind often makes it difficult to enjoy undisturbed and

deep sleep. If you suffer from unipolar depression, you could also

suffer from insomnia.

Lack of sufficient sleep makes you lethargic and excessively tired.

You become irritable and find it difficult to concentrate or make


You wake up at odd hours and then find it difficult to fall asleep


Poor sleep patterns lower your immunity levels and your physical

ability to fight infection. You could become more easily susceptible

to all types of infections.

Your depressed state of mind does not prompt you to look for

proper medical care. Even if you get the necessary medical care,

you may be less likely to follow your doctor’s advice or treatment

schedules diligently.

Depression is claimed to sometimes be a cause for development of

alcoholic and drug habits in men and teenaged boys. Alcohol and

drug abuse lower your sustenance and inhibition levels drastically.

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You may start contemplating suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, you also

try to attempt suicide to put an end to your unhappy life.

Depression and regular use of abuse substances could put distance

between you and your friends and relatives.

You could also suffer from loss of memory and indulge in extensive


Depression can mar your family life irreparably, leading to divorce,

with separation of parents and children.

The children may then also develop depression early in life due to

the trauma.

Unipolar depression, if untreated, may help to cripple much of

what’s worthwhile in your life.

You could suffer from poor social and professional experiences.

Untreated depression may indirectly cause extensive losses to the

economy of a whole country.

Employers should offer employee assistance programs and proper

medical benefits for employees to take good care of their health and

remain productive all their working years.

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34. Depression and Thoughts of Suicide

Unipolar depression often incites suicidal thoughts.

These thoughts arise in a depressed person, as they have poor

control over their emotions. Depression makes you feel hopeless

and unhappy about everything in life.

So, you could get to feel that ending your life is the best way to

escape all depressing thoughts.

Depression makes a person very negative and disinterested in life.

You are unable to see all the real positives around you.

You feel there is no end or solution to all your problems. This

induces an oppressive sadness and an unrelenting dull and

pessimistic atmosphere.

You may feel there is no relief from this boundless sorrow. You find

sadness, hopelessness, and despair all around. Therefore, you feel

that death would put an end to all your sorrow and your very


Although suicidal thoughts are a common symptom of high

depression levels, suicide is never the solution. Suicide is an

irreversible act.

No life is worthless and ending it would always cause harm or

sorrow for those that you care about.

Death is always a sad event and your suicide would cause extreme

pain and increased problems for all those who love you.

Thoughts of death and suicide often come across as fleeting

thoughts in normal people after any major occurrence like a death

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of a loved one or at any time that you feel your future looks very

bleak and hopeless.

In depressed people, suicidal urges could be very high at the time

when you are coming to grips with starting remedial therapy. You

maybe reluctant to accept that therapy can bring positive influences

in your life.

You may sometimes feel that taking any therapy is a waste of time.

But, taking action while seeking support from family and friends and

getting reliable information from counselors can help you overcome

such feelings.

After taking few therapy sessions, you start feeling better and you

can more easily push away suicidal thoughts.

They might reappear at any time in a depressed person. Even the

slightest turn of events could trigger depressed thoughts and


But you can overcome them by sticking to your program and

recognizing each improvement, however small, in your general

condition. Then, suicidal thoughts or feelings cannot stay for long.

It is only a matter of time and some effort before you get back to

your normal self-control and are able to handle all things properly

and effectively.

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35. How to Overcome the Depression

Depressed feelings may swarm in at any moment. Once depression

sets in, you feel very low, dull, and pessimistic about everything.

You need to find and use some ways of coming out of this

depression so that you are able to keep control your emotions.

In severe cases, professional help may be needed to help you come

out of your depression blues. But, in less intense instances, you can

help yourself and overcome your depression.

Depression often occurs if you are unable to meet your goals or

deadlines. Always break your work into small and simple parts that

you are able to complete and review before proceeding to the rest.

Prioritize your work and complete jobs according to their urgency

and importance. This assures you that you are working on the most

important work at any particular time.

So, you are capable of managing everything.

Exercise boosts your energy levels by increasing serotonin, which

are natural neurotransmitters, in your brain.

You do not have to practice rigorous or extreme exercise schedules.

Simple exercises can do the trick. Otherwise, participating in

cultural and social events may also ease your mind. You feel better

and free from depression after such activities.

Depression bouts bring with it many pessimistic thoughts and

feelings. You may feel you are worthless and are in a hopeless


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You start forming and dwelling on all negative thoughts. It is

essential to remember that negative thoughts are due to depression

and these will fade away once you overcome your depression

through proper treatment.

Physical exhaustion is often a prelude to depression. Maintain a

healthy diet by consuming protein-rich foods and avoiding all foods

that could trigger more depression symptoms.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary foods.

Also, stay away from non-prescribed drugs and do not attempt any


Take adequate rest and allow your body to regain energy levels so

that it becomes easier to overcome your depression.

Indulge yourself by going shopping, eating in a restaurant, going for

a movie or do anything else that makes you feel happy and


You can confide your depressive thoughts to a close friend or

relative and you will feel better. These help you overcome your


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36. Cognitive Therapy for Depression

Cognitive therapy refers to a psychological way of dealing with

depression. It is common to have various negative thoughts in

times of depression.

Cognitive therapy helps you to analyze these thoughts and

understand stress-causing factors.

You learn to have a positive approach at life and this boosts your

self-confidence immensely over time.

Cognitive therapy functions by using correct behavioral techniques

to change your perception of things. Cognitive therapists work by

assuming that your depression problems are a result of certain

unresolved conflicts in your mind and heart during your childhood.

Such conflicts could arise from traumatic events, disturbed

childhood due to broken homes or separated parents, or any

personal losses like loss of parent or any close relative in your


These are seen as the causes for improper development of

necessary coping skills.

Cognitive therapy primarily deals with your behavioral aspects.

A therapist helps you to conduct a self-analysis to better understand

and evaluate anything that you see as deficiencies.

This helps you to identify your problem points and possible causes

for irrational behavior. Cognitive therapy then proceeds to using

self-talk as the best tool to help you come out of your depression.

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Self-evaluation by depressed persons normally concentrates on a

negative assessment. You normally give more weight to your

inabilities and deficiencies.

Cognitive therapists help you to analyze your behavioral patterns

and understand and appreciate your abilities. This teaches you to

manage your problems better.

Self-talk is a technique of voicing out your thoughts aloud but it

does not necessarily mean you are talking to yourself. Your flow of

thoughts help cognitive therapists to understand the problems

behind your depression.

Therapists teach you how to develop positive self-talk so that you

boost your self-confidence and make yourself mentally stronger.

Cognitive therapists hint at formation of various automatic thoughts

in your mind. However, you should attempt to develop positive

automatic thoughts to overcome your depression.

Positive thoughts improve your abilities to assess situation and meet

challenges. You are able to push away negative feelings and

interpret things positively.

This is essential to fight away depression.

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37. How to Help a Depressed Person

Depression is a mental illness and it often brings excessive

aggression, negativity, and irritability with it. Depressed people

therefore appear agitated and snap at the smallest pretext.

Dealing with and interacting with a depressed person requires

extreme patience and understanding.

Depressed people often do not seek treatment. But, untreated

depression is potentially harmful and unhealthy.

You should coax the depressed person into taking proper medical

treatment. Dealing with a depressed person requires tact. You

should manage your talk and actions in such a way that you endear

yourself to them and they are more likely to agree to your

suggestion of visiting a doctor.

Consult a registered psychologist or meet a psychologist available

through referral. You should further encourage the depressed

person to adhere to and work according to the advice of the


Similarly, you should make sure that the depressed person takes

their regular medications and practices all recommended coping


Sometimes, depressed people could harbor serious suicidal

thoughts. These require immediate professional medical attention.

A depressed person requires constant support and company. It is

best not to leave them alone at any time. You should have good

cooperative abilities and be ready to do anything and everything

that may be necessary.

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None of the depression treatments deliver instant relief.

Rehabilitation of depressed people is a long process.

It takes time and you should have the necessary patience and the

right approach to take proper care of the depressed person.

Take an active part of and a real interest in the life of the depressed

person. Talk and listen to the person attentively.

Do not disparage his or her thoughts and feelings. A peep into the

life of the depressed person can make you understand what he or

she is going through.

You can invite or accompany a depressed person for walks, movies,

or take part in other recreational activities like practicing hobbies, or

in cultural activities.

Although a depressed person requires diversion of their thoughts,

do not make many demands. Instead, allow him and her to feel free

to come to you at any time and ask for whatever their requirements

may be.

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38. Dietary Supplements and Nutrition for Depression

Your diet plays an important role in maintaining proper balance of

body and mind. Lack of an adequate supply of essential nutrients in

your diet could cause many chemical changes.

These changes might disturb the working of vital body systems.

Such changes can trigger mental imbalances that translate into


You should consume a well-balanced diet divided into three meals a

day or, alternately, eat five small meals a day. All your meals

should contain food items from the major food groups like

carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Additionally, you should include adequate amount of vitamins and

minerals in your diet so that there is complete balance in all types of

food and there is an easy assimilation of all food.

Important and Nutritious Food


Carbohydrates are energy foods. Such foods make your brain

produce more serotonin, which is a natural neurotransmitter.

Proper serotonin levels are required to maintain proper moods.

Carbohydrates are available from whole grains, fruits, and

vegetables. Complex carbohydrates offer a steady supply of energy

to your body and mind.

Although sugary foods and refined flour also contain carbohydrates,

they cannot provide a steady supply of energy.

Try to consume more whole grain cereals and similar foods rather

than processed and sugary foods.

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Fat in large quantities may prove harmful. However, small

quantities of fat are essential for maintaining good health and

proper brain functioning.

The absence of enough fat from your diet could cause serious mood

swings and extreme irritability. Include fat that is available in milk,

butter, oils, and dairy products.


These are the bodybuilders. Proteins contain essential amino acids

that influence mood changes. Tryptophan is an important amino

acid and essential for the secretion of serotonin.

Important sources of tryptophan include meat, eggs, bananas and

dairy products.

Another amino acid, tyrosine, helps the secretion of dopamine and

nor-epinephrine. These neurotransmitters regulate your mood.

Important sources of tyrosine include bananas, meat, dairy products

and almonds.

Effective absorption of amino acids is possible if you combine

carbohydrates and proteins when you eat. Carbohydrates release

insulin, which carries sugar and amino acids to the brain.

Tryptophan does not require the help of insulin to enter your brain.

However, excess protein levels in body cannot secrete extra

neurotransmitters. An excessively high protein diet could cause

serious stress on your kidneys and liver.

Vitamins and Minerals

A deficiency of B-vitamins could cause depression. A multivitamin

pill might meet your vitamin deficiency. But, you should have

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vitamin supplements only in prescribed doses and as advised by

your physician.

Low folate levels could trigger depression and produce poor

response to antidepressant medications. Folic acid supplements may

be one way to supply necessary folate.

Low calcium levels may trigger headaches, irritability, mood swings

and excessive fatigue. Vitamin C supplements sometimes come with

vitamin D help to help in easy assimilation.

Low levels of other minerals like magnesium, zinc and selenium can

trigger depression symptoms.

Eat a balanced diet to get all essential vitamins and minerals in

adequate quantities.

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39. Where to Get Help for Depression

Depressed people can seek help and advice from qualified

healthcare providers. As soon as you sense that you are not quite

your normal self for some unknown reason, you should contact your

family doctor for a thorough check-up.

Your doctor would be familiar with your medical history and any

medications you are presently having for any ailments. So, your

family doctor may be the best qualified person to deduce if you are

having any serious depression problems or whether it might be an

effect of any of your current medications.

Identification of any problem is essential for receiving proper

medical treatment.

Your family doctor can then suggest a psychiatrist or psychologist to

provide relevant specialized help for your depression problems.

Psychiatrists are licensed medical professionals. They are experts in

psychotherapy and can prescribe necessary medications for treating

mental illnesses.

Psychologists are trained medical professionals with doctorate

degrees. They cannot prescribe medications for depression but can

offer counseling sessions and carry out all types of psychological


Physician assistants are medical healthcare givers trained to identify

depression symptoms or psychiatric disorders.

Registered nurses are nurse practitioners. They have some

specialized nursing training for treating mental and psychiatric


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Social workers can also contribute by providing mental health

services for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of different

psychiatric illnesses.

Social workers work to enhance your quality of life and make the

society a happier and healthier place to live.

There are special nurses for treating psychiatric or depressed

people. These are psychiatric nurses. They are registered nurses

that specialize in the nursing and treating of depressed patients.

You can locate good medical help for treatment of your depression

problems from such places as:

• hospitals,

• community health centers,

• health maintenance organizations,

• hospital outpatient clinics and psychiatry departments,

• private clinics,

• employee assistance programs at your workplace,

• social agencies, and

• other local medical or psychiatric societies.

Alternatively, you may locate medical help by going through the

Yellow Pages.

For emergencies, contact doctors available on emergency duty in

hospitals. They can provide immediate medical help and direct you

for further help or hospitalization.

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Part-VII: Frequently Asked Questions

40. Frequently Asked Questions

about Unipolar Depression

What is depression?

Depression is a mental illness. It can have various levels of

seriousness depending on your symptoms and intensity.

What are the possible causes for depression?

Depression could be triggered by an upsetting event such as the

death of spouse or a loved one. Sad and stressful events like

divorce or separation could induce depression.

It could be hereditary.

It can be due to certain traumatic events like rape, sexual abuse, or

any other abuse in childhood.

Sometimes serious illnesses and specific medications for curing

these illnesses could induce depression symptoms.

Substance abuse and social exclusion could also cause depression.

Can depression affect children?

Yes, children are at equal risk to develop depression as older

people. More than 2.5% of children in the US suffer from depression


Changes in physical health, hereditary factors, special events,

chemical changes in their bodies and their living environment may

induce depression.

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Does depression affect children in the same way as adults?

Depression in children shows differently than in adults. Depression

in children could cause changes in their normal life style and school


It interferes with their regular play schedules, schoolwork,

interaction with friends and family members and their other


It may occur with other disorders in children like attention deficit

disorder, conduct disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Sometimes these disorders tend to mask various symptoms of


Does excess or lack of sleep cause depression?

Yes, disturbances in sleep patterns can cause depression. Personal

problems could intensify this depression.

Sometimes, specific medications deprive you of your sleep. This

could make you feel depressed. Chronic inability to sleep could also

cause depression.

Why do Women have a higher probability of getting depression?

Women not only report a higher incidence of depression but also

have a higher probability of suffering from it.

This could be due to frequent changes in hormone levels in women.

Women experience distinct changes in hormone levels during

menstruation, menstrual disorders, pregnancy, childbirth,

miscarriage, perimenopause, menopause and hysterectomy.

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Do all depressed people commit suicide?

No, just a few depressed people actually commit suicide. However,

some claim that thirty to seventy percent of depressed people try to

commit suicide.

In most suicide attempt cases, patients are under severe depression

and could be suffering from multiple medical problems that could be

the main reasons for their attempt at suicide, rather than just


What is the duration of a depression episode?

Depression episodes could last for more than two weeks and may

continue for months. Seasonal depression occurs primarily during

winter months.

Some depression episodes could last for years.

There is no specific duration for a depression episode.

Does a person who had depression, experience it again?

If you have had an episode of depression, you may or may not

experience it again.

Having had an episode may not increase your chances of suffering

from a major depression attack again.

Proper treatment is essential to maintain your health and help you

recover so that you are better prepared to combat symptoms that

might recur.

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Just One More Thing.

I hope this book will help you deal with the depression that affects

your own life or that of people that you care deeply about.

I’ve tried to give you the best and latest information that I could

find and make it easy to understand even if you have no special

knowledge or qualifications.

Research, funded by governments and pharmaceutical companies,

is adding to our knowledge about depression so fast that even a

ebook cannot keep pace.

Please consult your doctor and other qualified support for the most

current information and advice which they can tailor to your

particular medical history and circumstances.

And, never hold back any information from them about yourself or

your symptoms. The smallest thing can sometimes be of great help

in shortening the time that a course of treatment takes.

Stephanie Mallet 2008

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